Op-Eds & Articles

Article

How Cities and States Are Leading the Fight for More Beneficial Trade

Author: Edward Alden
PBS NewsHour

“The real progress has been not in Washington—where the idea of an active government role in promoting economic competitiveness remains suspect—but in the states and the largest cities. More and more local governments have taken the lead in developing competitiveness strategies that start from the premise that local prosperity depends in good part on success in international economic competition,” argues CFR Senior Fellow Edward Alden. This is an excerpt from his new book, Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy.

See more in United States; Competitiveness

Article

The Cult of the Expert—and How It Collapsed

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
The Guardian

Sebastian Mallaby uses the framework of central bank power to examine the rise and recent decline of the cult of the expert. He concludes that, ironically, experts need to play the political game if they hope to maintain their legitimacy; and that a healthy democracy is well served by a mix of public accountability and technocratic independence. 

See more in United States; Monetary Policy; International Finance

Op-Ed

Britain’s Post-Brexit Warning for Americans Seduced by Trump

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
The Washington Post

Donald Trump’s ungainly back-and-forth on immigration has a parallel in Britain, which is struggling to make sense of its own impetuous resolution to take control of its borders. Indeed, if Britain after the Brexit referendum is anything to go by, a Trump presidency would be dominated by zigzagging: sometimes to dilute past promises, sometimes to double down.

See more in United Kingdom; United States; Elections

Article

Venture Capital and Cleantech: The Wrong Model for Clean Energy Innovation

Author: Varun Sivaram
MIT Energy Initiative

Venture capital (VC) firms spent over $25 billion funding clean energy technology (cleantech) start-ups from 2006 to 2011 and lost over half their money; as a result, funding has dried up in the cleantech sector. In this report, we present the most comprehensive account to date of the cleantech VC boom and bust, aggregating hundreds of investments to calculate the risk/return profile of cleantech, compared with those of medical and software technology investments. The results are stark—cleantech offered VCs a dismal risk/return profile, dragged down by companies developing new materials, chemistries, or processes that never achieved manufacturing scale. We conclude that the VC model is broken for the cleantech sector, which suffers especially from a dearth of large corporations willing to invest in innovation. Fortunately, new public and private capital may be on the way after announcements made at the 2015 Paris Climate Change Summit. If a new and more diverse set of actors avoids the mistakes of the cleantech VC boom and bust, then they may be able to support a new generation of cleantech companies."

See more in Global; Energy and Environment

Article

The TPP Debate Has Devolved Into Generalizations. What’s Actually in the Deal?

Author: Edward Alden
World Politics Review

U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to continue his push for Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), despite firm opposition to the free trade agreement from both of the major candidates for president, including his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. “Right now, I’m the president and I think I’ve got the better argument,” he told reporters following a meeting Tuesday with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

See more in United States; Trade; Treaties and Agreements

Op-Ed

Among High-Growth Firms, Reason for Optimism on Startups. (Really.)

Author: Robert E. Litan
Wall Street Journal

Think Tank readers know of my pessimism about the 30-year secular decline in the startup rate–the ratio of new U.S. firms with at least one employee as a share of all firms–through 2011. Labor Department data out Wednesday that looked at new firms and jobs created in the last quarter of 2015 showed how the numbers are down since the recession ended compared with pre-recession data.

See more in United States; Financial Markets

Op-Ed

U.S. Needs New South China Sea Strategy To Contain Beijing

Author: Jennifer M. Harris
Newsweek

On Tuesday, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration issued its final ruling in a landmark case between the Philippines and China over disputed maritime claims in the South China Sea. The object of intense global interest, the three-year-old case has come to serve as a bellwether for the kind of rising power China intends to be.

See more in China; United States; Regional Security